Fr Werner Utri
What a different kind of Mother’s Day it will be for most of us. In encouraging all Victorians to continue practicing social distancing, our premier Daniel Andrews stated that he would not be seeing his mother on Mother’s Day.
The same situation is true in our family – there will be, however, phone calls and finally a family Zoom this evening – thank goodness for technology.
Our family, like the premier’s family and all other Australians, have had to reimagine what Mother’s day might be like this year. We have all had to become adaptive, responsive, patient, and flexible. All, I believe, are qualities of mothering.
Mothers so often anticipate and foresee the possible perils and dangers and changes that await their children, reminding us and reassuring us that it will all be okay, that the wounds will heal, the pain will go away, that tomorrow will be better, and that there will be another day. They help celebrate our joys and victories and comfort our losses and failures.
Mothers instill in us hope that all shall be well.
The readings this 5th Sunday of Easter echo with very similar themes of reassurance, comfort and hope. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we see the disciples of Jesus overwhelmed by the growth of the Early Church. They have to reimagine the whole notion of ministry and what their tasks are.
They realise that they need to share the tasks at hand, that it cannot be business as usual – that there needs to be a new normal. Where there is recognition that different people have different gifts and all are called to ministry. Some are called to be preachers and teachers of the Word of God, others are called to minister and care for the needy, for widows and outcasts. By working together, extraordinary things can happen.
We see this reflected in our own country at this time.
The second reading from the First Letter of Peter is a reassuring call and affirmation of who we are as God’s Holy People. ‘You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the Praises of God who called you Out of the darkness into His wonderful Light’.
St Peter here is reminding the early Church, but also us today, of the task of being God’s People. Of moving from the darkness of self-centeredness and self-pity to be people bathed in Christ’s wonderful light.
Reassurance is again the message of today’s Gospel. Jesus says:‘Do not let your hearts be troubled
Trust in God still, and trust in me
There are many rooms in my Father’s house.’
There is room for all. Everything is going to be okay. Jesus here is reminding His followers that God is with them. This is a timely reminder to us as well – that God is with us – and all shall be well.
How easy this is to forget and fall into the trap of despair and self-pity when confronted with change and the unfamiliar. This is often expressed in our thoughts and our language, the negative can take over our lives and draw us into darkness: ‘I can’t go to church. I can’t receive communion. I’m stuck at home. I’m frightened and fearful, often of the unknown. I want to blame someone for the situation I’m in.’
It is in response to the uncertainty of the future for Thomas that Jesus reminds him and us that ‘I am the Way the Truth and the Life.’
‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’. It is through the reassurance of Jesus that we are all given hope – hope that this darkness, uncertainty and confusion will also pass.
History can be a great teacher if we only take the time to look back and ponder its meaning. The Middle Ages were a turbulent time in history. Wars ravaged population as kingdoms took up arms against their neighbours, recurring waves of the plague wiped out up to a third of the population of Europe. Life for ordinary people was, to say the least, difficult!
From this rather messy world emerged a fascinating nameless mystic – an anchoress, who lived in a tiny isolated cell next to the Church of St Julian in Norwich for where she had been given the name Julian of Norwich. For most of her life, Julian did not leave her cell. She lived a rather unremarkable life really, but people came to her to seek advice, wise counsel, comfort, hope and reassurance.
Her words of wisdom and reassurance echoed through the centuries for those who have ears to hear, that ‘all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.’ Words to ponder and carry in our hearts in these uncertain times.
Fr Werner Utri is Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral.